The United States is currently at high and rising tensions. With social media being the way it is, #BlackLivesMatter has become known to households all over, helping highlight the racial injustices and prejudices towards the black community. Nyree Holmes, an 18-year-old graduate of Cosumnes Oaks High School, grabbed the attention of many with what occurred during his graduation ceremony through social media. Holmes will also be discussing the series of events that happened on his unforgettable day, as well as his future endeavors into college and career.
In Elk Grove, just south of Sacramento, CA, Nyree Holmes points out a couple of things that can be well-considered as racial insensitivity. These things occurred during his time in the Elk Grove community, including Cosumnes Oaks. Holmes describes Elk Grove neighborhoods as a conservative town, with “Confederate flags flying high” in the front yards. At COHS, there was a dispute over the celebration of Black History Month. Nyree says, “there was no acknowledgement, no appreciation, no achievement of black people.” Nyree highlighted that the person in charge of student activities is the same one who told him to remove his kente cloth in order to walk across the stage.
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Although upset with this request to remove this cultural artifact, two generations of Holmes’ were proud to see their son and grandson graduating and moving on to his next journey. Nyree called his mother during the ceremony to let her know what happened. She was shocked but advised him to do what he was told. Nyree is adamant about embracing his culture, he takes pride in it — to hide this varicolored fabric under his attire would disregard the point. He declined for the sake of his identity. It is part of who he is.
The traditional cap and gown that is worn, academic regalia, is the standard in America. The kente cloth from Ghana is eye-catching because of its diverse patterns and hues made from silk and cotton fabrics, that is woven to create masterpieces. It's now widely popular for black American high school and college graduates to wear kente in ceremonies. With America’s diversity in the present day, Holmes believes that other cultures should be acknowledged and has no problem exercising his right to do so.
Where this issue takes a turn and is blown out of proportion is when law enforcement becomes involved. In the history of Black America’s fight for justice with police brutality, having two police officers escort him out of the ceremony was needless. Holmes was not allowed back in the building to get his diploma until a black security guard allowed him in to retrieve it. The security guard's actions and words, “much love brother, stay up and achieve more” meant everything to Holmes and was surely appreciative in that moment.
What’s next for Nyree Holmes? It’s higher learning at California State University, Fullerton as a film major. Nyree recalls wanting to create movies since his eyes could look at a TV. In no way, shape or form has Nyree ever been a traditionalist and he plans to carry that mindset as a filmmaker.